50 Best Shops in Philadelphia
This is a golden age for shopping in Philly.
Hear us out. We know it’s also the age of Amazon, of big-box behemoths and, soon, of drones that will plop packages, stork-like, on our doorsteps. But in spite of all that — and perhaps because of it — our independent boutiques are digging in, drilling down, and setting up shop all over the city. The best ones (and that’s any of those you see below) are breathing new life into our neighborhoods, redefining the way we spend our money, and, in some ways, shaping our city’s identity. After all, while every city has a carbon-copy string of H&M, Zara and J.Crew, who else has Joan Shepp, Ubiq and Material Culture?
But it’s not just about stocked shelves and glitzy rosters of top designers. If the main lure of brick-and-mortar shopping is the experience, then especially in this age of faceless online ordering, the theater of retail can intrigue us, transport us, make us want to set up camp. (Ever been in Valley Forge Flowers?) But you shouldn’t stay too long — there are so many shops to discover and great finds to be found right now. Scroll below to begin your hunt for the 50 best shops in Philadelphia. — Emily Goulet
Last updated: March 2016
50 Best Shops in Philadelphia
- Ella’s Grove
Old City, Moorestown
- The Geisha House
- Joan Shepp
- Knit Wit
Rittenhouse, Bryn Mawr, Margate
- Malena’s Vintage Boutique
- Meadowsweet Mercantile
- Shop Sixty Five
Rittenhouse, Bryn Mawr, Stone Harbor
- Style Camp
- Third Street Habit
- Art in the Age
- Briar Vintage
- Cultured Couture Vintage
- Gorshin Trading Post & Supplies
- Lapstone & Hammer
- Mitchell & Ness
- Ps & Qs
- Stars & Stripes Ltd.
- Trove General Store
- Blue Octagon
- Cella Luxuria
Fishtown, Northern Liberties, East Passyunk, Queen Village, West Philly
- Material Culture
- People’s Store Antiques Center
- Studio 882
- Zinc Home
- Eye’s Gallery
- Duross & Langel
- Moon + Arrow
- Omoi Zakka Shop
- Open House
- Valley Forge Flowers
- Bario Neal
- Bella Turka
- Bus Stop
- Egan Day
- Ritual Ritual
- Waltzing Matilda USA
Gifts & Miscellany
Shoes & Accessories
» Want to see how this list came together? Read this: How I Chose the 50 Best Shops in Philadelphia
Best Shops in Philadelphia: Women’s Boutiques
105 North Aberdeen Avenue, Wayne
This four-year-old boutique speaks to the split personality of most Philadelphians come summertime: one part beachy (flippy Isabel Marant dresses) and one part city slicker (leather Rag & Bone pants). The vibe: A space that feels as if it could be the Parisian loft of a raptly followed style blogger. Go here for: Gauzy cover-ups, whisper-thin sweaters, crisp white tops (these are by IRO, and they’re insanely covetable), and everything you’d ever want to wear at the Shore. Ask for: Owner Susan Ahn, a former merchandising exec for Marc Jacobs and Anthropologie, who is a pro at helping you navigate it all. Insider tip: Follow the shop on Instagram for first crack at new arrivals.
385 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford
The mix of aesthetics here — country, rocker and nouveau boho — could be clashy, but thanks to owner Fran Campbell’s savvy eye, honed during her five years as a women’s buyer for Boyds, it’s eclectic and fun. The vibe: Feminine rusticity: a slatted wood wall, scattered antlers, weathered vintage fixtures, and the requisite amount of fringe, suede and denim. Go here for: Hand-painted leather jackets by Nigel Preston & Knight, slouchy Lauren Moshi band tees, and jewelry from beads to diamonds. Coming soon: Wol Hide, a smart collection of lightweight knits by Campbell’s daughter, all of which are hand-loomed in Fishtown.
162 North 3rd Street, Old City; Moorestown Mall, 400 Route 38, Moorestown
Its Old City location is a refreshing avant-garde break from the neighborhood’s other boutiques, which tilt to the vintage, feminine side. But it’s the New Jersey outpost (an expansive gallery-like space in the Moores-town Mall) that’s truly shaking things up — a pioneering force that could, just maybe, transform the traditional mall landscape into a more boutique-friendly space. The vibe: Coolly austere. Go here for: Beautifully spare, modern pieces by acclaimed European and Japanese designers, including MM6, Sofie D’Hoore and Ivan Grundahl. Standouts: Made-in-Italy denim by Closed.
The Geisha House
149 North 3rd Street, Old City
Owner Cortney Cohen-Sze ditched her day job as a nurse to open this airy shop, a sharp career detour that blew a breath of fresh air into North 3rd Street and solidified its reputation as a go-to retail corridor. The vibe: A bright, girly space, made cuter by the frequent presence of Cohen-Sze’s golden retriever, Kacey. Go here for: Breezy, sexy clothes, many by heralded Aussie designers. Standouts: Wispy lace-and-sheer dresses by For Love and Lemons. Hidden treasures: A small but mighty collection of bralettes and underwear by Skivvies, tucked by the dressing rooms.
1811 Chestnut Street, RittenhouseLoyalists of Philly’s grande dame of high fashion fretted when Shepp vacated her hallowed Walnut Street space back in 2013. But the move was only a precursor to a bigger, better, cooler spot on Chestnut, which Shepp opened in 2014, just in time for the street’s rebirth. The vibe: A sweeping three-level store that’s museum-like in its glossy white minimalism. Go here for: A world-class collection of the avant-garde (Dries van Noten, Junya Wantanabe), the coolly restrained (The Row, Lanvin) and the up-and-comers (Vetements, Sacai). Insider tip: The best time to shop is during the store’s annual basement sale in January, when prices dip as low as 70 percent off.
1729 Chestnut Street, Rittenhouse; 905 West Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr; 8001 Ventnor Avenue, Margate
Ann Gitter’s Knit Wit — the pioneer of indie retail on Chestnut — has managed to stay relevant after more than 50 years in the biz with a dependable mix of pieces that check one of two boxes: enduring staple, or envelope-pushing wardrobe star. The vibe: Wood floors, white walls, simple racks, exposed brick, and the occasional antique detail (like Shaker pegboards, from which hang tissue-thin Zoe Karssen tees). Go here for: High-end picks from 3.1 Phillip Lim, A.L.C. and Alexander Wang, alongside workhorses like cloud-soft cashmere sweaters, denim and Equipment button-ups. Standouts: Elevated loungewear by Norma Kamali.
Malena’s Vintage Boutique
101 West Gay Street, West Chester
Vintage-hounds from as far as L.A. travel to West Chester to pluck through Malena Martinez’s century-spanning trove — a trek that’s more than worth it. (Those who’d rather not travel can shop her collection online; she regularly ships to London, Japan and New Zealand.) The vibe: A bright, colorful wonderland that delights connoisseurs but doesn’t intimidate novices. Go here for: Well-priced, wearable vintage clothing and accessories, with a sprinkling of big names (Chanel, Dior, Alaïa). Must-buy: Anything from Martinez’s impressive selection of ’60s Lilly Pulitzer dresses. Insider tip: If you happen to visit on a day that’s not busy, Martinez just might walk you around the corner to her secret showroom, where she houses the parts of her collection — organized impeccably by color — that won’t fit on the store floor.
47 North 2nd Street, Old City
Husband-and-wife owners Michael Bazis and Stacy Jackson have transformed a former art gallery into a vintage boutique that’s sophisticated, earthy, and a welcome reprieve from overly cluttered shops. The vibe: Urban Outfitters meets Kinfolk. Go here for: Vintage women’s wear arranged by aesthetic, from bohemian (lace and crochet) to utilitarian (reworked overalls) to rocker (an original Sex Pistols tee). Must-buy: Anything from the smattering of lifestyle items, particularly Fishtown-made Felt + Fat ceramics and Peg & Awl bags. Insider tip: Look for robes and handwoven Turkish textiles by Cuttalossa, a Philly company that operates in the back of the Meadowsweet building.
333 South 20th Street, Rittenhouse
Bela Shehu’s atelier is the destination for the city’s most in-the-know shoppers, and where we send naysayers to prove Philly has major design clout. The vibe: Spare, modern and quietly cool. Go here for: An androgynous, origami-like collection (all made in Philly) that conjures comparisons to Issey Miyake and Rick Owens. Must-buy: The Simone gloves ($220), sheepskin leather arm sleeves that look great peeking out from tees or long-sleeved tops. Need to know: The shop is appointment-only, which means you’ll get Shehu’s undivided attention, a glass of wine, and — perhaps the best part — a chance to chat with one of the most interesting members of Philly’s fashion flock.
Shop Sixty Five
1921 Walnut Street, RittenhouseAfter a 12-year reign in Doylestown, Linda LaRosa moved her boutique to a coveted spot just off Rittenhouse Square this past fall and quickly set to sharpening her store’s urban edge (think: fewer heels, more sneakers) so style-savvy urbanites have a reason to venture beyond the big-box retail heart of Walnut. The vibe: Part femininity, part rock-and-roll, all displayed in a grand late-19th-century converted Rittenhouse mansion. Standouts: Structured IRO leather jackets, bleached Cult of Individuality denim and breezy Thomas Wylde pieces. Fun fact: LaRosa got her start as a fashion editor for the Czech Republic edition of Elle and has styled celebs like Naomi Campbell and Portia de Rossi. Coming soon: Mara & Mine, a collection of city sneakers and sandals the shop is bringing in for spring.
212 South 17th Street, Rittenhouse; 931 West Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr; 272 96th Street, Stone Harbor
Maureen Doron has a knack for knowing exactly what women want to wear, and she gets it right every time, tailoring the mix to her clientele at each of her three stores with scientific precision. The vibe: A cheery sanctuary with dashes of chevron, splashes of shell pink, expanses of white lacquer and gleaming gold fixtures. Go here for: Gently fashion-forward brands like Rebecca Minkoff, Tibi and Zimmermann. Standouts: Anything by The Perfext, especially the leather jackets.
8433 Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill
Germantown Avenue might be best known for its gift-centric string of shops, but this boutique, owned by a mother-daughter duo, puts Chestnut Hill on the map for fashion, too. The vibe: Glam campsite. Go here for: Effortlessly cool clothing, accessories and gifts by under-the-radar makers (Esby t-shirt dresses; linen skirts by Artemesia Handmade) and household names (silk leopard-print Equipment shirtdresses). Standouts: Lightweight cotton shirts by Italian company Le Sarte Pettegole and feather-light scarves by Paris-based Inouitoosh.
Third Street Habit
153 North 3rd Street, Old CityJanuary Bartle’s dreamy 12-year-old haven — the OG of the OC, if you will — was one of the pioneering forces of Old City’s boutique scene. It’s also an inspiration for those who dare to plant roots in unexpected retail ’hoods and a standout for its always-fresh spin on boho style. The vibe: Weathered bohemia. Go here for: A wanderlust-inspiring mix of gauzy silk Ulla Johnson dresses, Frame denim flares, kimono-like tops and silken caftans, all of which are best adorned with a sprinkling of Pamela Love jewels. Ask for: Liz Knowles, one of Philly’s most well-known shopgirls, who has dressed just about every style-setter in town.
37 North 3rd Street, Old City
Since the rosters of designers at women’s shops verge on repetitive (DVF, Milly, J Brand, Ella Moss, etc.), Vagabond can appear to newbies as nothing short of a revelation. In fact, it’s been in its spot for a decade, one of the founding fathers of North 3rd’s shoppable strip and an indie darling. The vibe: Tonal, cozy, earthy, arty. Go here for: Clothing, jewelry, shoes, homewares and apothecary goods from lines both established (Rachel Comey, Ace + Jig) and lesser-known (Atelier Delphine, Osei-duro). Be sure to riffle through the well-vetted vintage section, too. Must-buy: Co-owner Mary Clark’s line of chunky knitwear, Stellapop, which has earned a cult following among fashion folk. (She sells skeins of yarn here, too, should you decide to go the DIY route.)
Best Shops in Philadelphia: Men’s Boutiques
Art in the Age
116 North 3rd Street, Old City
This Old City lifestyle shop helped put artisanal on the Philly map with its coolly relaxed mix of bar goods, homegrown spirits, apparel and accessories. The vibe: Hipster without the pretense. Go here for: Menswear that’s at once rugged and refined. Must-buy: Super-soft American-made hemp t-shirts by Jungmaven ($42) and Strawfoot canvas totes ($140). Need to know: An entire wall is devoted to showcasing Warby Parker’s vast lineup of specs.
1818 Chestnut Street, Rittenhouse
It’s the equivalent of having a luxury department store smack in the middle of the city—a Rittenhouse mainstay that has shed its legendary pretension so city-dwellers can shop in town rather than heed the call of KOP’s luxury chains. The vibe: An imposing marble and columned space that harks back to the days when shopping was an experience. Go here for: A top-notch menswear selection — from casual basics to suits — spread out over three floors. Pro tip: The store employs 40 on-site tailors who offer expert alterations and a wealth of made-to-measure options.
60 North 3rd Street, Old City
Last month’s space swap with next-door neighbor and sister store Sazz Vintage gave Briar a much-needed expansion, so its heralded collection of vintage menswear can creep — albeit slightly — into more modern decades. The vibe: Old-timey, with nods to old-school butcher shops thanks to displays rigged with pulleys and meat hooks. Go here for: Classic American men’s clothing and accessories from the 1900s to the ’80s (it used to stop at the mid-’60s), with a strong focus on workwear and deadstock. Ask for: David Lochner, the managing partner, who knows more about the history of men’s clothing than almost anyone in the city. Insider tip: On Tuesdays, Lochner takes private appointments at Briar’s warehouse space in Frankford, during which shoppers can get deals on merch before it’s laundered and repaired for the store floor.
Cultured Couture Vintage
703 West Girard Avenue, North Philly
Erik Honesty’s boutique is the retail equivalent of a speakeasy: a dull oatmeal exterior on a seemingly boutique-barren stretch of Girard that — surprise! — conceals a natty gentlemen’s shop, lined with an impressive array of vintage Louis Vuitton trunks and luggage. The vibe: The living room of your very dapper uncle — vintage Chesterfield sofa, chess table, fox-fur blanket, framed Hermès scarves, art books and jazz music included. Go here for: Vintage menswear and accessories, with a heavy focus on Ralph Lauren equestrianism and Louis Vuitton opulence. Standouts: A bevy of Easter-egg-hued blazers, including a cream Givenchy and a butter-yellow linen Valentino. Hidden treasures: Ask to see Honesty’s trunk of vintage Hermès ties; most are $125, and all are in great condition.
Gorshin Trading Post & Supplies
125 Kings Highway East, Haddonfield
It’s not surprising that Mitch Gorshin’s one-and-a-half-year-old shop feels a bit like a movie set: For 15 years, he designed rides and resorts for Disney theme parks. But it is surprising that his shop is in sleepy Haddonfield, a welcome departure from the town’s gift stores and women’s boutiques — and arguably one of its best attractions. The vibe: Rugged man-cave. Go here for: Goods that are made to last forever: Dubarry boots and sweaters, featherlight Topo bags, moto gear by Motorcycle Company Parma. Coming soon: Gorshin is kicking off a traveling series this summer for which he’ll plan and lead vacations to appropriately outdoorsy spots (first up: the Poconos; next, Steamboat, Colorado). Fun fact: Gorshin’s late father, Frank, played the Riddler in the Batman television series. No, he doesn’t mind if you ask him about it.
Lapstone & Hammer
1106 Chestnut Street, Market East
If there was any lingering doubt that Market East could become a viable retail corridor, Brian Nadav’s menswear shop — established last June in a grand 4,000-square-foot Art Deco building — has effectively (and stylishly) quashed it. The vibe: The sweet spot between streetwear shop and high-end designer boutique. Go here for: Limited-edition sneakers, handcrafted leather footwear, premium denim, high-end outerwear, and a smattering of accessories and grooming products. Fun fact: Nadav also co-owns City Blue, Philly’s preeminent urban sportswear company, with his father, who started the brand in 1981. Coming soon: An in-house brand of hand-finished jeans (from ultra-luxe Japanese selvage to four-way stretch denim) and elevated basics like tees, three-button henleys and hooded cutoff sweatshirts, set to launch this spring.
Mitchell & Ness
1201 Chestnut Street, Midtown Village
This revered company — in operation since 1904 — made nostalgia cool with its greased-lightning concept: to re-create vintage sports apparel. More than a century later, and armed with licensing agreements with all the major sports leagues, its flagship store is a mecca for sports fans from all over the country. The vibe: Laid-back sporty lair punctuated by an impressive collection of memorabilia, like signed Iverson jerseys. Go here for: Authentic throwback jerseys, jackets, pennants and hats. Standouts: Re-created vintage jerseys ($250 to $300), the store’s perpetual best-sellers. Must-buy: An MLB batting-practice jersey. At $80, it’s an affordable alternative to pricier game versions.
Ps & Qs
820 South Street, Bella Vista
It’s one of South Street’s best hidden gems, a four-year-old lifestyle boutique that proves streetwear, sneakers and, yes, South Street can be sophisticated. The vibe: Floor-to-ceiling blond wood; slick modernity. Go here for: Elevated streetwear from brands like Norse Projects, Herschel and Publish, alongside sneakers, raw denim and a colorful wall of bags. Need to know: The shop also carries an impressive selection of Taschen coffee-table books, which make perfect gifts for the hard to impress. Coming soon: The owners plan to launch a handful of shops across the city. First up: a women’s and kids’ store on Pine Street that just opened its doors.
Stars & Stripes Ltd.
2129 Chestnut Street, Center CityThis winding shop serves up the traditional — checkered button-ups, shawl-collar sweaters, cotton henleys — in a wildly untraditional location: a circa-1881 decommissioned Gothic Revival church, a twist that makes everything here seem infinitely cooler. The vibe: Easy-wearing Americana amidst magnificent architecture, like stained glass windows and grand arching doorways. Go here for: Preppy USA-made goods, with a focus on homegrown favorites (pocket squares by Philly’s Armstrong & Wilson; socks by Ardmore’s American Trench; pants by Reading-based Bills Khakis). Insider tip: All of the vintage decor and furniture is for sale, too. Inspiration secret: Ask nicely, and the shopkeeps just might give you a tour of the rest of the historic church.
124 North 3rd Street, Old City
This isn’t the only local boutique to embrace selvage denim, American heritage, exposed brick walls and steel pipe racks, but they’ve been doing it better — and arguably longer — than anyone else in town. The vibe: Warm industrialism. Go here for: A selection of vintage and new apparel, plus accessories, art and lifestyle goods. Must-buy: A pair of handmade raw selvage denim by shore-town brand Asbury Park (from $224).
Trove General Store
82 East Lancaster Avenue, PaoliHusband-and-wife owners Foster Zeh and Charlotte Bonner dispensed with pie-in-the-sky ideas (setting up shop in an old farmhouse somewhere way off the main drag) and instead gave shoppers what they want: well-curated, smart, quality goods in a convenient place. (That place just happens to be sandwiched between a Chico’s and a Paper Source in a beige strip mall off of Lancaster Avenue.) The vibe: Part old-time general store, part rustic log cabin in the middle of the wilderness. Go here for: Well-made products by heritage brands like Filson, Pointer Brand, Dubarry, Pendleton and Belstaff. Must-buy: Levi’s Made & Crafted, a hard-to-find line of premium denim. Trust us: Buy in bulk.
Best Shops in Philadelphia: Home
335 East King Street, MalvernProof of popularity? Since opening last winter, Krissa Wichser’s Malvern boutique has already more than doubled in size, a necessary expansion that gives her collection of bright, bold, eclectic home goods and gifts even more room to shine. The vibe: Art Deco glam meets Palm Beach prep, with a heavy-handed dose of gilt, lacquer and Lucite. Go here for: Furniture (Jonathan Adler upholstered X-benches; flokati-tufted stools, Lucite tables), accessories (throw pillows, lamps, art, tableware) and gifts (Assouline coffee-table books, candles, vases). Standouts: Society Social gilded rattan bar carts ($695). Need to know: Wichser, an interior decorator, offers full design services and paint-color, art and accessory consultations.
1214 Chestnut Street, Midtown Village
This home store — a five-floor, 2,000-square-foot behemoth — instantly revitalized the city’s drooping home-store scene and gave Philadelphians a much-needed fount of design inspiration. The vibe: Restoration Hardware meets Design Within Reach. Go here for: Furniture with an industrial bent alongside a hefty showing of mid-century modern reproductions. Need to know: The store houses an American Leather showroom at which city-dwellers short on space can customize a sleeper sofa that’s comfortable and great-looking.
1331 Frankford Avenue, Fishtown; the Piazza, 1050 North Hancock Street, Northern Liberties; 1835 East Passyunk Avenue, East Passyunk; 609 South 4th Street, Queen Village; 4521 West Baltimore Avenue, West Philly
What began in 2004 as a t-shirt, art and specialty toy store has since ballooned into a five-location brand that’s recharged Philly’s vintage scene with its unfussy business model: bulk buying, rock-bottom prices, whip-quick turnaround. The vibe: Unstuffy flea market. Go here for: Vintage housewares and furniture. Need to know: The selection at each outpost is determined by the size of the space. Fishtown is the largest (dressers, bedroom furniture), followed by West Philly, the Piazza, East Passyunk and, finally, 4th Street (dining chairs, little antiques). Insider tip: Every day, Jinxed posts the best, newest pieces from all five locations — along with full item descriptions, prices and store phone numbers — on its Instagram feed. The first to call gets the goods.
4700 Wissahickon Avenue, suite 101, East Falls
Since 1983, the Jevremovic family has overseen this vast global emporium, a circus of antiques, oddities and curiosities that intrigues, baffles and very easily overwhelms — in the best way possible. (Grab a cuppa joe at the coffee bar at the main entrance; you’ll need it.) The vibe: A cavernous 60,000-square-foot rehabbed warehouse, the former site of the historic Atwater Kent Radio Company. Go here for: Antique and new furniture, art, architectural salvage, rugs and artifacts from all over the world — a riotous collection that makes Ikea look hopelessly sterile. Standouts: Modern chairs, lounges and sofas upholstered in recycled sari fabrics. Fun fact: A big-time Philly media exec came here to buy ancient Indian elephant doors to use as garage doors for his Main Line manse.
People’s Store Antique Center
28 North Union Street, Lambertville
Housed in an 1839 historic landmark building, this antiques emporium unfolds over four maze-like floors and has long been a destination for designers and lazy Saturday-afternoon browsers. The vibe: A creaky, sometimes musty treasure hunt. Go here for: Early American and British furniture, mid-century modern pieces, 19th-century French imports, Asian antiques, china, old movie props, vintage clothing, jewelry, silver, architectural artifacts and more, from 45 vendors. Inspiration secret: The co-op is also home to two working artists’ studios.
882 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford
If trend-less, timeless furniture has gotten lost in the clamor for stage-worthy statement decor, this Chadds Ford company reels us back in with its high-end collection of furnishings that span traditional to contemporary. The vibe: Luxury showroom. Go here for: Heirloom-quality furniture from big names like Baker, Kindel, Julian Chichester and CR Laine. Insider tip: Owners Katie and Chad Groves offer design services and bespoke pieces. Coming soon: A new 12,000-square-foot location (that’s four times the size of the current space) in Glen Mills, set to open in May 2016.
74 Bridge Street, Lambertville
Rod and Tracey Berkowitz’s shop is the small-town, authentic version of Anthropologie; its vintage-looking pieces are truly vintage, painstakingly sourced from estate sales, flea markets and antiques shows and often repurposed into something fresh and unexpected. And the displays are as over-the-top inspiring as you’d expect (a halved Jeep truck sticking out from the front of the building and brimming with throw pillows, for instance). The vibe: Industrial farmhouse. Go here for: Three floors of vintage, salvaged and repurposed furniture and home accessories (giant metal signs, lockers, factory lights and zinc-topped tables). Insider tip: Rod also makes custom furniture and can tailor a piece in the shop to your liking.
Best Shops in Philadelphia: Gifts & Miscellany
402 South Street, Queen VillageSome shops make this list for the fact that they could only really be in Philly. Eye’s Gallery makes this list for the way it transports you out of the city, to Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, or some secret artist’s cave far from this neon stretch of South Street. The vibe: The tri-level bazaar is a heady whirlwind of colors, patterns and textures, with sloping carved ceilings, a ribbon-like spiral staircase and artwork everywhere. Go here for: Folk art, housewares, jewelry and furniture from more than 15 countries. Fun fact: Julia Zagar and her husband, master mosaic artist Isaiah, opened the shop back in 1968; it’s the site of Isaiah’s first mosaic. Insider tip: Julia leads trips to places like India, Peru and Cuba during which she’ll take you to insider spots you’d never find on your own.
Duross & Langel
117 South 13th Street, Midtown Village
Before soap-making became a popular venture, there were Steve Duross and James Langel, a duo who made small batches of it in a tiny Midtown Village apartment. Twelve years later, their 13th Street store is a perennial favorite among shoppers looking to stock their beauty arsenals with all-natural products that have Philly roots. The vibe: Like a candy shop — bright, colorful, cheery, and just as sweet-smelling. Go here for: Soap, candles, lotions, balms, deodorant, shampoo, body wash, scrubs, perfumes, beard oil, aftershave, and anything else that belongs in or near a tub. Need to know: Last spring, the shop expanded to include an upstairs hair salon and a third-floor yoga studio.
Moon + Arrow
754 South 4th Street, Queen Village
Chelsea Pearce’s store unfurls slowly, an inviting tactile emporium that brings a fresh boho bent to Fabric Row. The vibe: Bohemian artist’s enclave. Go here for: Handcrafted and vintage jewelry, bags, cards, clothing, housewares, and artisanal goods and gifts. Must-buy: Graphic brass jewelry, all handmade by Pearce, that starts at $22. Standouts: Geometric marble trivets by Fort Standard ($96) that are more like sculpture than mere kitchen necessity. Coming soon: An expanded children’s section with gifts and gear starting at $12, ideal for moms who’ve tired of big-box offerings.
1825 East Passyunk Avenue, East Passyunk
Sara Villari’s gift shop is movie-set cute, a rock star on the indie scene that doubled in size just a few weeks ago. The vibe: Handmade Etsy charm. Go here for: Cards, party gear, jewelry, candles, barware, gift wrap, stationery, and everything else that lives on your “Entertaining” Pinterest board. Must-buy: Anything from Girls Can Tell Gift Company, Villari’s in-house line that features her own adorable sketches (annotated rowhouses, soft pretzels and Boathouse Row) on dish towels, onesies, bibs and wine totes.
Omoi Zakka Shop
1608 Pine Street, Rittenhouse
When Liz Sieber planted roots here back in 2006, it was just far enough off the Rittenhouse retail path to be a gamble. But her intensely curated selection made it a cult-loved destination for discerning shoppers weary of gifty go-tos like Paper Source. The vibe: A teensy yet endlessly shoppable emporium. Go here for: Thoughtfully designed little luxuries — from paper goods and jewelry to home and apothecary — with a strong Japanese influence. Standouts: Sleek Komono watches and sunglasses for him and her, imported zines you won’t find anywhere else, and an unmatched selection of gorgeous office accessories.
107 South 13th Street, Midtown Village
When Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran set out to transform 13th Street from a desolate stretch to a buzzy destination, their first map-marking venture was Open House, a star of a gift shop that has consistently shined since its opening in 2002. The vibe: Jam-packed, unpredictable, delightful. Go here for: Home accessories, tableware, baby goods, jewelry, and anything else you could possibly want to give — or get — as a gift. Must-buy: Champagne flutes and beer glasses by Easy Tiger, inscribed with cheeky gold-foil phrases ($14-$22).
1216 Walnut Street, Midtown Village
After three years in a space roughly the size of a postage stamp, the lifestyle boutique recently settled into a 2,000-square-foot storefront on Walnut Street, an upgrade that nods to consumers’ growing appreciation for well-made everyday objects. The vibe: Spa-like, with relaxing music, a trickling water feature, pale dove-gray rocks lining the perimeter, and a tea bar that serves up complimentary cups. Go here for: Imported Japanese goods, like tissue holders and brass trivets that look like sculpture; lightweight but super-absorbent yoshi towels; artisan-made copper cookware, and desk accessories and gifts that make the mundane suddenly beautiful. Must-buy: Japanese Cypress room spray ($22); it’s the scent that’s diffused throughout the store.
1724 Sansom Street, Rittenhouse
Alex Stadler’s subterranean shop — it’s hidden below Joseph Fox Books — is a whirl of crazy, funny, offbeat curiosities that makes stark minimalism feel hopelessly overrated. The vibe: Like searching through your very eccentric great-aunt’s attic. Go here for: Eclectic gifts, art, vintage trinkets and home accessories, and the occasional furniture piece. Standouts: Stadler’s own collection of scarves, socks, mugs, rugs (these are new; ask to see sample squares) and artwork. Insider tip: Stadler is known for his fashion sketches, and he does custom illustrations. Coming soon: An online store and gallery in June.
Valley Forge Flowers
503 West Lancaster Avenue, Wayne
This shop has been a mainstay for 42 years — a sprawling two-building hub where monied Main Liners go gift-hunting (and to seriously trick out their patios). The vibe: Preppy and classic. Go here for: Flowers (real and silk), gifts, outdoor furniture and home accessories. Must-buy: Colorful patterned Spicher and Company indoor-outdoor vinyl floor cloths, an airy spring alternative to thick-piled rugs (starting at $50). Need to know: The shop boasts two cafes. Get the gelato.
Best Shops in Philadelphia: Shoes & Accessories
700 South 6th Street, Bella Vista
This tiny atelier is the brainchild of two friends, Anna Bario and Page Neal, who create some of the most beautiful jewelry in the city, all made from reclaimed metals and ethically sourced stones. The vibe: Part jewel box, part workshop. Go here for: Delicate organic-looking rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings, as well as custom pieces. Need to know: The duo offer an amazing selection of men’s jewelry, particularly wedding bands.
113 South 13th Street, Midtown Village
Koray Avci’s pinprick-sized shop is easy to pass over, but a spin through it reveals a globally sourced collection of jewelry unlike anything else you’ll find around town. The vibe: Rudimentary design — rows of wall-mounted display cases — makes the gems inside seem that much more special. Go here for: There are modern, delicate diamond-studded pieces from stateside designers, but you’ll want to search out the goods that seasoned importer Avci unearths on his travels: chunky cuffs from Istanbul, tasseled necklaces from Afghanistan, and ornate Ottoman Empire-era necklaces from Turkey. Need to know: Avci just opened a second location at 1700 Sansom Street.
727 South 4th Street, Queen Village
In Elena Brennan’s beloved Fabric Row boutique, a roster of funky designers gives shoe-lovers a refreshing reprieve from toothpick stilettos and ubiquitous red soles. The vibe: Whimsical, with a sharp dose of London edge. (Brennan’s from Britain.) Go here for: Shoes that are unconventional and colorful, rendered in odd shapes and unexpected colors. Standouts: Curved-heel booties by John Fluevog and futuristic sandals by United Nude. Must-buy: A pair of supremely comfortable lace-less oxfords ($250) from Brennan’s second shoe line, a collaboration with All Black.
260 South 16th Street, Rittenhouse
Kate Egan’s eight-year-old boutique is a refuge for those who prefer quiet glamour to in-your-face bling. The vibe: Airy gallery, with fine jewelry and objets d’art displayed beneath glass cloches. Go here for: Subtly luxe, nature-inspired gems by cultishly followed designers like Maria Beaulieu and Gabriella Kiss. Standouts: Gumball-sized opal rings by Kimberlin Brown. Must-buy: Ceramics by Fishtown-based BDDW, an internationally acclaimed furniture company that also custom-designed the central table in the store. Coming soon: Egan Day Rittenhouse, a gift shop and floral atelier in the Rittenhouse Hotel.
1329 Pine Street, Midtown Village
All there is to indicate that Halloween even exists are a dragon statue out front and a business card and tiny store-hour sign in a window — a brazen rejection of typical retail conventions that has earned the shop (now 50 years old) and its owner, Henri David, near-mythical status in the city. The vibe: Magical and gothic, with whimsical displays that take hours to pore over. (You’ll find pieces in antique grandfather clocks, giant obelisks, plastic pods and a massive old organ.) Go here for: A collection of around 11,000 pieces — from the oddball to the artfully restrained — much of which are dreamed up and handmade by David and his team of six jewelers. Hidden treasures: The chandeliers are jewelry displays, too; ask a staffer to pull them down for you. Fun fact: David’s best customer is Stevie Nicks. Yes, that Stevie Nicks.
819 North 2nd Street, Northern Liberties
The NoLibs retail scene, which ballooned only briefly before receding in recent years, got new life with this design collective, which packs jewelry, clothing, vintage and gifts into a space with an aesthetic — no, aura — different from anything else around. The vibe: Mystical, with no shortage of dream-catchers, crystals and tarot cards. Go here for: Truly interesting jewelry (talismans, really) from more than 30 independent, emerging designers. Standouts: Concrete Polish, owner Angela Monaco’s line of gem-studded jewelry — especially the chunky rings, which are organic, sculptural feats of metalworking. Best buy: Bold silver cuffs ($350) by Philly-based Sticks + Stones.
25 South 19th Street, Center City
Though Philly has long had a reputation as a sneaker town, Tung To’s two-and-a-half-year-old shop puts us on the map for more finely tuned add-ons, from some of the biggest names in the business (John Lobb, Scarpe di Bianco, Fiori Sassetti). The vibe: Cozy, homey, and as unintimidating as a shop that sells $2,000 shoes can be. Go here for: Everything other than the suit: dress and casual shoes, luggage, belts, bags, pocket squares and lapel pins (the latter two handmade by To’s wife). Insider tip: All of the vintage and mid-century modern furnishings — from low-slung credenzas to a wildly cool Sputnik table lamp — are for sale, too. Need to know: Head here for the best $6 shoe shine you’ll find anywhere in the city.
1509 Walnut Street, Center City
It’s the original sneaker shop in Philly, a 12-year-old sneakerhead sanctuary known for its cult-followed releases (many of which see lines snake around the block days before), hard-to-find kicks, and collaborations you won’t find anywhere else in the country. The vibe: Futuristic, gallery-like. Go here for: Limited-release sneakers, streetwear and accessories. Standouts: Stone Island jackets, sweats and shorts, and anything Yeezy. Insider tip: Pay attention to Ubiq’s blog and social media accounts for a head’s-up on future releases; sometimes you need to enter a raffle to shop the collection.
Waltzing Matilda USA
21 West Avenue, Wayne
Though Mike Balitsaris’s three-year-old company got its start in the back of a VW van, it’s hard to imagine it anywhere other than its current location: a boutique-slash-workshop that’s become one of the best reasons to visit Wayne. The vibe: Rugged luxury peppered with bolts of leather, vintage hides, and occasional flashes of turquoise and silver. Go here for: Handcrafted leather accessories — bags, wallets, shoes, tech cases, belts — some made from the leather overstock of top-notch American micro factories (think: Redwing), others from antique leather saddles and WWI gear. Need to know: An expansion last fall made space for an entire room of vintage and reclaimed home furnishings from Life’s Patina, a Malvern company known for its seasonal barn sales.
Published in the April 2016 issue of Philadelphia magazine.